The Spotted Nutcracker is a dark brown, broad-winged, short-tailed corvid. Body plumage is mid to dark chocolate brown, heavily spotted with white on face, neck, mantle and underparts. It has a large white loral spot, a white eye-ring, blackish brown cap extending onto the nape, dark blackish wings with a greenish-blue gloss, all white vent, and dark tail with white corners above and a white terminal band on the undertail. In flight, broad wings, white vent and short tail are noticeable; the flight undulating. The black bill is slender and rather long, sharply pointed, and varies in size amongst races. The iris, legs and feet are black. Nutcrackers range from 32–38 cm in length (from tip of beak to tip of tail) and have a wingspan ranging from 49–53 cm.
The Spotted Nutcracker has an extensive range forming a broad swathe east-west from Scandinavia right across northern Europe, Siberia and to eastern Asia, including Japan, inhabiting the huge taiga conifer forests in the north. Three further disjunct populations occur in mountain conifer forests further south, one centered on the mountains of central and southeast Europe (the Alps, the Carpathians and the Balkan Peninsula mountains); another in the western Himalaya; and the third in western China seaboard and separated from the northern population by a relatively small gap in the north centre of China. See subspecies list above for race distributions. Some of the populations can be separated on bill size. This species has a large range, extending over 10,000,000 km² globally. It also has a large global population, with an estimate of between 800,000-1,700,000 individuals in Europe.
Spotted in my garden